Nfld. & Labrador

From Newfoundland to The New Yorker, persistence pays off for cartoonist Anne Fizzard

It's been a four-year process, but the St. John's artist recently sold three cartoons to the iconic magazine.

St. John's artist has sold 3 cartoons to iconic magazine; 1st deals with stress of the U.S. election

Anne Fizzard, formerly of St. John's, is an actor, cartoonist and writer based in New York. (Shane Maritch)

It took four years, but St. John's artist Anne Fizzard recently sold three cartoons to The New Yorker — a magazine known for covering everything from politics to poetry to pop culture — and the cartoons it has featured since it was first published in 1925. 

One of the three has already appeared as the online daily cartoon for Oct. 16, and was inspired by the stress, anxiety and suspense leading up to November 's U.S. presidential election.

"I was certainly feeling a lot of that. And I thought, you know, I just I felt the need to to respond to that in some way," Fizzard told CBC Radio's Weekend AM

"I drew a cartoon where a guy, you know, did his civic duty. He went and voted, but then he decided to be cryogenically frozen until inauguration day because, just to avoid all of the stress and drama that we're still kind of going through in a way." 

The U.S. election was the inspiration for the Oct. 16 daily cartoon on The New Yorker website. (The New Yorker)

Fizzard is now a New Yorker herself, but got her creative start in her hometown of St. John's at the age of 18, designing a slide tape presentation for the Janeway Children's Hospital to teach kids about burn prevention. 

She moved to New York City in the 1980s to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and while there entered a U.S. immigration green card lottery, which she eventually won. 

By 1991 she was back in the Big Apple, and has been acting, illustrating, cartooning and writing there ever since.   

Persistence is key

Fizzard started submitting her work to The New Yorker about 4½ years ago, and eventually drummed up the nerve to go to an in-person pitch meeting the magazine holds on Tuesdays, getting valuable feedback from the cartoon editor. 

"Finally, in July of last year, I sold my first cartoon, and that was a huge day for me," she said.

This advertising illustration by Fizzard commemorates the closing of Auntie Crae’s Food Shop in St. John’s. (Anne Fizzard)

Making a living through the arts can be challenging in an expensive and competitive place like New York, so Fizzard also works nights at a law firm to make sure the bills are paid.  

"I'm very grateful to have that now, you know, because the unemployment situation here is really, really tough. So I have that as a supplement, thank God. But in terms of forging ahead in the arts, I think persistence really, really is sort of the word of the day." 

Fizzard doesn't know yet when her cartoons will appear in print, and she can't reveal too much about them, except to say one is about pizza and the other has a cowboy in it.

She hopes the exposure in the New Yorker will open more doors; in the meantime, she's kept busy during the stay-at-home era  brought on by COVID-19 by playing identical twins living together in quarantine, in a web series she created, called Marigold & Martha.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Weekend AM

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